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Inspiration Abounds at Lidia Varesco Design
by Carrie Chase, The Paper Mill Store
Essie reading about Greetings
by Lidia Varesco Design in
Annual benefit invitation
package for Family Focus
Lidia Varesco Design
Lidia Varesco Design
Invitation designed by Varesco for her upcoming wedding.
Lidia Varesco has one full-time office companion, and she isn't much for conversation. She doesn't offer Varesco constructive criticism on her designs or meet her for drinks at happy hour. She does, however, make sure Varesco takes frequent walk breaks.
Essie is the "canine office assistant" at Lidia Varesco Design, a boutique graphic design studio in Chicago, which specializes in branding and marketing. While Varesco doesn't get a lot of creative input from Essie, she isn't wanting for creative inspiration. She has surrounded herself with sources of fuel for her work.
One of Varesco's constant sources of inspiration is paper. "I have a background in bookbinding and collage art, so I've always had stacks of paper in my studio," Varesco says. "For me, paper has always been an inspiration as well as an important aspect of the design process. I feel that paper supports and strengthens the overall design concept. Therefore, I put time into researching papers, familiarizing myself with new stocks, meeting with paper reps, and 'oohing' and 'aahing' over printed samples."
Varesco's passion for paper inspired her line of designer greeting cards and stationery, Greetings by Lidia Varesco Design, which is perfect for businesses who want to keep in touch with clients and prospects. "Online communications are effective, but nothing beats a handwritten card," Varesco says. "For small businesses especially, I feel that this personal approach can help them stand out from their competition."
Varesco recently started offering greeting cards on 100% recycled paper. "I've been gaining more knowledge of green papers, which has become important to many of my clients as well," she says. "I think clients appreciate when I research and suggest papers, whether it's a unique paper to fit the design concept, an economical option to accommodate their budget or a recycled stock to promote their green values."
Another well of inspiration for Varesco is the connections she's formed with other creatives and business leaders over the years. She strongly believes in the importance of mentors and networking.
"Having design and business mentors is very important," Varesco says. "Over the years, I've had several mentors including my dad, Carlo Varesco, who is also self-employed and my go-to person on business matters, and my former boss, Robin Winge of Winge Design, who helped me learn the ropes of running a design business."
Varesco is involved in several groups in Chicago including Neighborhood Networking, which she co-founded last March. "We wanted to create a networking event that was businesslike, yet friendly and non-threatening as well as provide an opportunity to promote Chicago's wealth of unique neighborhoods and local businesses," Varesco says. "I myself have made several valuable connections through Neighborhood Networking, including the company that helped me revamp my website and my wedding planner!"
The city of Chicago itself is a "wealth of inspiration" for Varesco. "From museums and botanic gardens to local music and the lakefront, there's always a place to go if you need to recharge creatively," Varesco says. "The design community is also very active in Chicago, with frequent events such as lectures, seminars, paper shows, and exhibitions."
Varesco finds that Chicagoans, especially creative types, want to be connected to others. She's actively involved in a small design collaborative made up of fellow designers as well as ideaXchange, a network of creatives that meets regularly to chat about business. Varesco says, "Since I mainly work independently, both groups help me to stay connected, informed, and inspired."
Varesco also networks via the web and is very active on Twitter and her blog. "I find social media to be a fantastic way to get to know people in my industry and form connections, many who have become creative resources and friends," Varesco says. "I get a lot of information and inspiration via Twitter." Varesco follows all the paper mills, design groups and publications such as @DesignObserver, @HOWBrand and @printmag and small business marketing leaders such as @ducttape.
Social media has also helped Varesco spread the word about her business and design work, leading to promotional and business opportunities. "I would encourage designers to use social media but to keep in mind that it's just a piece of the marketing puzzle," Varesco says. "Like networking, it's a cumulative effect so you may not see rewards immediately."
Essie also does her job spreading the word about Lidia Varesco Design with frequent appearances on Twitter and Varesco’s blog. She was also recently featured on the HOW Design Blog, begging to attend the upcoming HOW Design Conference. Dogs like to network too, ya know.